Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 9

We’re entering that period of the season which is the exact opposite of the summer of 2011 – there is plenty of football. It’s enjoyable for the fans, but this is where teams that start the season strongly face their sternest tests, and squads have to be utilized to the max (eg. Picking one out of Valencia/Nani/Young becomes a legitimate headache in FPL).

This is also a time where luck rears its ugly head (some may argue it’s always been that way). I could’ve bet my house that Cazorla would tear Norwich (who’d been at the end of hidings from Liverpool and Chelsea previously) apart, and Spurs with their pace might be a match for Chelsea’s midfield. As it turned out, Dembele and Bale missed out as Mata stamped his authority at White Hart Lane, and Cazorla returned that dreaded 2. More of the same with Pienaar who, instead of returning the points I expected him to, got sent off.

Enough ranting about luck. On we go.

Gameweek 9 fixtures:

Aston Villa v Norwich
Arsenal v QPR
Reading v Fulham
Stoke v Sunderland
Wigan v West Ham
Man City v Swansea
Everton v Liverpool
Newcastle v West Brom
Southampton v Tottenham
Chelsea v Manchester United

The Big Boys:


Despite some heartening early performances, Southampton are in trouble (and reportedly, so is Adkins’ job), and Tottenham are smarting from last week’s defeat to Chelsea. The Lilywhites have an eminently winnable couple of fixtures coming to heal those wounds - make sure you have Jermaine Defoe though them. You may drop Vertonghen after gameweek 10, but hold him for now if you have him. Gareth Bale missed out last week due to personal issues (Happy Fatherhood to him), but should be back to face his former club.

Nobody expected Norwich’s first win of the season to come against Arsenal, and following a disappointing European home performance most uncharacteristic of them, the Gunners now face an improving QPR at the Emirates. Lord Bouldemort’s magic is fading, and there are suspicions that we’re seeing the old Arsenal again. This is certainly not the best time to buy their players on retail, given their current form and the fact that they travel to Old Trafford the week following this.


The blockbuster fixture of the gameweek is Manchester United’s trip to unbeaten league leaders Chelsea. Two reasons Chelsea have dropped just two points are Eden Hazard and Juan Mata – this pair seems unaffected by the level of opposition they face in the league. Particularly Mata, who has scored 3 and assisted 5 in his last four league games for Chelsea . Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie face Chelsea and Arsenal in the next two matches, but it’s probably worth keeping (but not buying) them.


The third plum tie of the gameweek is Swansea’s trip to the Etihad. Sergio Aguero will help City’s goal difference and your FPL points, and is a guy well worth buying given the upcoming fixtures. City’s defence isn’t altogether unsuspect yet, so there are points on offer for Michu.


Everton head into the Merseyside derby without their top midfielders Fellaini (injury) and Pienaar (suspension), so Liverpool should have an easy time of it. The points have started coming for Luis Suarez at last. Raheem Sterling is the cheapest FPL source of what might be a short run of good points. Gerrard always seems to show up on derby day, but he’s more of a hold (and then sell) than a buy.

The Other Guys:


West Brom are one of the league’s most improved sides, but they are suspect away from home, and now that their defensive injury problems are fixed (doesn’t mean you should pick any of their defenders right now), Newcastle should really get going. Demba Ba is the FPL gold in that team, and if you’re looking to invest in their midfielder, Hatem ben Arfa is a more consistent source of points than any other Geordie midfielder. Hold on to James Morrison if you have him already, but there will be better times for buying him.

Here’s a lovely stat of the week for you to chew on: there have only been two scorers for Sunderland this season – Steven Fletcher and Demba Ba. In short, if Fletcher doesn’t score, Sunderland don’t. The battle of the red stripes at the Britannia has the makings of a clean sheet for Stoke, so Begovic and Stoke defenders are good choices (the fixture list isn’t exactly bad either). Consider this a make or break week for Steven Fletcher, whose early run of goals seems to be drying up. He could restart his run like Michu did after a bad patch, or dry up for good. Given the way Sunderland are playing, the latter seems more likely. As mentioned earlier, Stoke have a better run of fixtures after playing all the top sides, so Crouch and Kightly are worth looking at.

Grant Holt, Norwich striker

The clash at Villa Park is between two sides who’ve begun the season in suspect fashion, to say the least. Norwich City will be buoyed after last week’s big win, their first of the season, and should nick this one too. Grant Holt appears to have embarked on a nice little run of goals, and should enjoy himself against Villa and probably in the next few games.

Wigan and West Ham are two tough sides entirely expected to stay up, and it has the makings of a tight game. Wigan players, like Stoke ones, are generally bad FPL players, with every player’s inconsistency in scoring points making them all not worth buying at any given time. The same can’t be said for West Ham’s skipper, Kevin Nolan. Andy Carroll would be a good gamble to take if you fancy a punt.

Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham striker

The London derby between Reading and Fulham should end in happiness for the Cottagers, particularly given that their best player, Dimitar Berbatov is fit again. Tuck in. Ideally, this should be the last time you keep any Fulham defenders, because the fixtures aren’t kind. Berbatov is immune to that, of course.

The Blogger’s Team

I know this is a pretty sub-par team, but let’s just say I paid the price for pulling the transfer trigger too soon, buying Pienaar for Yaya Toure 15 minutes before the former got sent off.

UPDATE: And now I hear Zabaleta is ruled out. Talk about sub-par.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 8

The end of that darn international break (seriously, do you know anyone who wants it?) means a welcome return to our beloved Barclays Premier League. I guess we can say that mid-season officially gets underway now, and this is the beginning of a crucial period in Fantasy Premier League too, it’s when the good FPL players (like the good EPL teams) begin to pull away to the top of the table, and patterns emerge. I’ll do my best to help you ensure that you’re up there!

To business now.

Gameweek 8 fixtures:

Tottenham v Chelsea
Norwich v Arsenal
Fulham v Aston Villa
Liverpool v Reading
Man Utd v Stoke
Swansea v Wigan
West Brom v Man City
West Ham v Southampton
Norwich v Arsenal
Sunderland v Newcastle
QPR v Everton

The Big Boys:

Santiago Cazorla, Arsenal midfielder

The plum tie of the gameweek is, without a doubt, Arsenal’s visit to Carrow Road. The coming two gameweeks for the Gunners are plum in fact, so it’s good time to get in Cazorla (and then put the armband on him). You won’t go wrong if you pick any of Gervinho, Podolski, or Giroud either. With Szczeszny (did I get that right?) and Fabianski both ruled out for at least a further month, Mannone is also a safe pick both in terms of playing time and points potential.

Juan Mata, Chelsea midfielder

The blockbuster fixture of the gameweek is Spurs welcoming the league leaders Chelsea. It’s not sensible to buy any of the players involved on retail now, but if you have any of Vertonghen, Bale, Defoe, Hazard, Mata or Torres already in your team, hold them in. This marks the beginning of a horrendous six-match run for Chelsea that sees them face Man United, Liverpool, Man City (all at home), Spurs away and West Brom away, with a trip to Swansea looking like the only one with any remote clean sheet potential. And it’s not just the fixtures - Chelsea will be without Terry for the next 3 league games, so it’s a very good idea to drop Cech and any Chelsea defender not named Ivanovic (whose attacking points see me still on his bandwagon)

Rafael da Silva, Manchester United defender

Stoke City tend to make matches low scoring ones (both in real life and in FPL terms) for themselves and the opposition. That isn’t to say you should get rid of any pricey Man United strikers you might have (although that wouldn’t be the worst idea with Stoke visiting and then Chelsea and Arsenal coming up), but the safest FPL bet, for this match at least, is United’s answer to Ivanovic – Rafael.

James Morrison, West Bromwich Albion midfielder

City kept their first clean sheet last week but it is little surprise that they were able to keep out defensive draw merchants Sunderland at the Etihad. West Brom’s home form coupled with City’s 8 goals conceded so far sees a target mark lock in nicely on James Morrison. If you already have Aguero or Tevez, hold them, but it’s not an ideal time to buy City players on retail given that they will be shorn of Silva (and therefore, that bit of creativity) for a short while.

Luis Suarez, Liverpool striker

Reading’s trip to Anfield has the makings of another plum tie. Having been frustrated by Stoke last gameweek, Liverpool should see their enterprising football pay dividends against the Royals. There’s a never a good time to buy Reds defenders, but having Luis Suarez (who, incidentally, is their only fit striker) will be good for you. Nuri Sahin is playing in a more advanced role than anticipated, and could be a smart FPL choice.

The Other Guys:

Fulham are a promising FPL prospect for the next couple of gameweeks, and people looking for cheap Cech replacements should take a look at Schwarzer. Sascha Riether is a good value-for-money choice, while in midfield, get a load of the revitalised Duff. Keep an eye on the strikers’ fitness as either Berbatov or Petric (or neither) could start. As of now, the only sure thing up front is Rodallega. This is all in anticipation of Villa being their usual dreadful selves.

Demba Ba, Newcastle striker

Steven Taylor and Coloccini will most likely miss the Wearside derby at the Stadium of Light, which is good news for owners of Steven Fletcher. The real FPL value are Newcastle though, and it’s wise to buy/hold Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye. If you have ben Arfa, hold him, but if he continues to play wide rather than central where he’s at his best, you might have to sell him.

Nikica Jelavic, Everton striker

Everton are among the worst opposition that bottom-team QPR could’ve hoped to face at this moment in time. This is an absolute delight, however for owners/potential buyers of Jelavic, Baines and Pienaar (the Merseyside derby next week is an anomaly in what is otherwise a delightful run of games for the Toffees). Sell Fellaini though. He’s injured.

Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll, West Ham United

West Ham United’s strong early form should continue against Southampton who will be missing Gaston Ramirez due to injury. Southampton’s attack i.e. Rickie Lambert should pierce the Hammers’ defence, but the reunion of that Nolan-Carroll combination that was so deadly for Newcastle should see off the Saints and many other teams in the weeks to come.

Swansea ended their losing run at home last gameweek, but they haven’t stopped conceding, their ‘streak’ is now 10 goals conceded in the last 4. It’s hard to tell where a Wigan goal could come from though, but a shot in the dark lands on Arouna Kone. Going forwards, last gameweek’s goal and this week’s fixture has put me back on the Michu bandwagon for the moment.

The Blogger’s Team

Akilesh Radhakrishnan's FPL GW8 team
A good number of you have asked for me to put up my team for the gameweek on the blog, so I will oblige from this week onward with this new feature. That’s the blogger’s team for Gameweek 8. For those interested, my subs are Cech, Pogrebnyak, Zabaleta and Fabio.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 7

Gameweek 6 was another low scoring gameweek with the average score being a lowly 40. It could be put down to the early-season FPL favourites Michu, Tevez, Hazard and van Persie not quite firing as much as they used to. There are plenty of tasty fixtures for Gameweek 7 though (this is incidentally the last gameweek before another cursed international break), and the average should be a lot higher this time.

On we go.

Gameweek 7 fixtures:

Manchester City v Sunderland
Chelsea v Norwich
Swansea v Reading
West Brom v QPR
Wigan v Everton
West Ham v Arsenal
Southampton v Fulham
Liverpool v Stoke
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Manchester United

The Big Boys

The plum tie of the gameweek is the one at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are playing like title contenders, and should really put Norwich away. Since his return to the starting lineup, Juan Mata has racked up 4 goals and 4 assists in 4 Chelsea matches. A neon sign of "FPL Gold" could not do justice. You might want to go with a blue backline/keeper too. Ivanovic, Cech, Cole are all good choices. As for owners of Eden Hazard, consider this a mini make-or-break week for him after his string of 2's - there are tough fixtures following this.

Manchester United travel to St. James' to face a Newcastle side that, despite numerous defensive injuries, refuse to be beaten. It's not because their defence has been watertight though - it's because Demba Ba has scored as many as the defence can concede. Since United have injuries at the back themselves, it's not a bad time to buy him. Kagawa scored a good goal last week and he along with van Persie could find some joy against a makeshift Newcastle defence.

It almost seems like they've never been away, doesn't it? You just wouldn't know West Ham are a promoted side with the results they've been getting. Arsenal's previously perfect defence is now showing some cracks, and Andy Carroll is the kind of player who has undone Arsenal in the past. As for Arsenal, the fixture list in October is kind, so you might want to empty your coffers on the in-form Gervinho. It's more of a 'hold' than a 'buy' gameweek for Cazorla, but if you want to take a pot shot, be my guest.

Manchester City's form leaves much to be desired of the defending champions. Second best against Dortmund, yet to register a clean sheet this season and with one win in their last 6 matches, it isn't looking promising for Mancini's boys. Stay away from their defenders but up front, pick Sergio Aguero who is once again the only guaranteed starting striker. As for Sunderland, they can rename themselves Steven Fletcher AFC for all it matters.

After a historic win at Old Trafford, Spurs host Aston Villa. Jan Vertonghen should continue foraging forward from left back with Assou-Ekotto still out, and is a good prospect for this game. Gareth Bale has come to life, and Jermaine Defoe is also worth a punt.

Liverpool won and won big last week, but it will not be quite as straightforward against a Stoke side that are disciplined and resolute against the big sides, be it home or away. Liverpool won't score quite as many but among those they do get, expect Luis Suarez to be involved. At the back, Liverpool (who are yet to keep a clean sheet in domestic matches) should be wary of former player Peter Crouch.

The Other Guys:

Reading gave a good account of themselves against Newcastle last week and were hard done by the officials. They travel to a Swansea side that have shipped 8 and scored none in their last three matches. Hello, Pavel Pogrebnyak. McAnuff wouldn't be a half-bad choice either. It's hard to make an argument for picking Swansea players given their dreadful recent form, so I'll just leave it up to them to try and make me regret not naming any of them here.

If you want a team in form, look no further than West Brom. Having lost just once all season and having won all their home games (with clean sheets), they are well primed to pick up a further 3 points against winless bottom team QPR. People, take your pick - Long, Morrison, McAuley and Foster.

Everton are starting to make a real case for their presence in the preceding section of this blog post. They are in top 4 form, and what a story it could be if they do make it. They have a kind fixture list till the Merseyside derby this month end, and there are benefits in store for owners of Jelavic and Fellaini.

Southampton haven't found goals hard to come by, and that is thanks to the good work of the experienced Rickie Lambert. The Saints have had problems at the back though, and this could be exploited by Petric, who will get a run in the side in Berbatov's absense (UPDATE: Petric is an injury doubt). Gamblers might want to take a punt at Duff.

I am man enough to admit that the Hunch of the Gameweek section was an utter failure, and will abandon it henceforth to make myself seem a bit more intelligent to you lot. Cheers!